Occupy Hong Kong hangs in there


Occupy Hong Kong at the headquarters of HSBC bank, July 16, 2012.


Philippe Lopez

Occupy Hong Kong made headlines today, nine months after its heyday, because HSBC, under whose building they've been camping out, has finally had it.

On Monday, the global banking giant went before a judge to see about evicting them.

The court agreed to give three of the Occupiers who don't have lawyers one month to come up with reasons why they should be allowed to stay.

The next hearing is planned for Aug. 13, and while that may be the end of the road for Hong Kong Occupiers, it's worth taking a look at why they've stuck around this long — when most other Occupy movements in Asia have gone the way of the blimp.

The New York Times highlights Hong Kong's historical narrative as ripe for the Occupy picking. Waves of mainland migrants initially fueled Hong Kong's, and "nearly every tycoon’s fortune in the former British colony is a version of a rags-to-riches tale," according to the Times. 

But such a fairytale beginning hasn't panned out into a corresponding end. Instead, Hong Kong has the widest wealth gap of any developed nation in Asia.

"[T]he city’s wealth gap has widened, property prices have soared and average citizens have become increasingly priced out, in many cases by well-heeled investors and visitors from the Chinese mainland."

It's a place where "pure or considerably unfettered capitalism has approached its logical end ... The city is home to more billionaires than popularly elected legislators," according to the Times.

Its not an unfamiliar plotline in the region. But in Hong Kong it has reached a most extreme end, which explains why the Occupy movement, though diminished (a couple dozen down from about 200), has hung around.

More from GlobalPost: Occupy World, a protest movement goes global

And not all Occupy Asia movements have petered out.

Here's a look at some active protests in the region:

Japan, where the Occupy movement grew up and around the larger anti-nuclear protest scene, just saw its largest anti-nuclear protest in decades. GlobalPost's Justin McCurry reported on the protests, which drew somewhere in the vicinity of 100,000 people to the streets of Tokyo:

"... post-Fukushima, the natural anti-nuclear constituency has been joined by younger people who, in many cases, are campaigning for a cause for the first time. They include the disparate groups and individuals, brought together by Twitter and other social media, who have besieged Noda's official residence in Tokyo every Friday evening for the past several weeks."

Another demonstration is expected this weekend in Tokyo, followed by a candlelight vigil surrounding the Diet building on July 29, McCurry reported.

In late April, Malaysia's "Bersih" movement (Malay for “clean”), which has been demanding political reform for years, landed headlines when the third incarnation of its massive street protest (“Bersih 3.0”) ended in tear gas and temporary detainments.

Occupy Bangladesh, was born in early 2011, before Occupy Wall Street, when a massive stock market crash wiped out the life savings of hundreds of thousands of mom-and-pop investors. In the months since, a vocal protest movement has regularly brought traffic to a halt outside the Dhaka Stock Exchange.

GlobalPost's Kate Lamb found that the power of protest has trickled down to the grass roots in far-flung corners of Indonesia.

"As occupiers gathered to criticize centers of corporate greed in London and New York, laborers in West Papua started their own mini revolution. Employed at one of the world’s largest gold and copper mines, run by the US-based Freeport-McMoran, they staged the longest strike in the country’s recent history [in late 2011], and they won. After three months, the multinational company relented and agreed to a 37 percent pay raise. Starting from a base wage of $1.50, that might not seem like much, but the victory was important."